Wintertime in Montana can be fun. Sure, you may dread the snow and ice, but the reality is that winter sports can be a way to beat back the doldrums of winter. Montana residents and visitors regularly participate in various winter sports activities, including skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating, and more. However, each of these incidents, and others, can lead to traumatic brain injuries if proper precautions are not made. Here, we want to talk about how you and your loved ones can stay protected when you are out having fun during the winter.

Wear a Helmet & Check Equipment

Any winter physical activity such as skiing, snowboarding, or riding a snowmobile must be done with safety in mind. Head injuries are one of the most common types of injuries that skiers and snowboarders seek medical attention for. A traumatic brain injury can occur from falls while heading down the slopes as and collisions with non-moving objects such as poles and trees.

Helmets are a literal lifesaver for winter sports enthusiasts. However, it is crucial that the helmets fit properly to help minimize the potential of a head injury. Helmets have been shown to reduce ski and snowboard-related head injuries by 60%, but they are not going to help at all if they do not fit appropriately. You need to try on any helmet you are considering using and make sure there are no spaces between the padding and your head. The helmet should feel snug but not too tight as to cause a headache. Make sure that the chin strap fastens properly every time you go out on the slopes.

All helmets worn while participating in winter sports must meet certain certification guidelines. Anytime you wear a helmet while participating in winter sports, look for a sticker on the helmet with the codes ASTM F2040 or CE EN 1077. Either of these codes indicates that the helmet has been properly tested for the safety standards necessary for quality shock-absorbing capacity, durability, and penetration resistance.

Stay in Your Comfort Zone

You may be a winter sports expert. However, you may be a beginner. In Montana, we are happy to have individuals at varying levels of expertise participate in winter sports, but we want you to be safe. There is absolutely no reason for somebody who has very little experience skiing to head to the advanced slopes. They are advanced for a reason. We strongly encourage you to stick with trails and slopes that you are comfortable with. Progressing in a sport can take time and inexperience can lead to devastating accidents that cause serious traumatic brain injuries.

Stay Home if Conditions Are Too Dangerous

One of the simplest ways to avoid sustaining a serious sport injury is to stay home if the conditions outside are too dangerous for skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or any other winter sport. If the winds are too high or if visibility is extremely low, it will be safer staying home until the conditions improve. You also need to look at the weather forecast for the day to see if conditions are expected to become worse after you head out on the slopes.

Not only do dangerous conditions such as high winds and low visibility affect the conditions on the slope, but just getting to your destination can be risky. Heavy winter weather driving comes with all kinds of risks, and the last thing you want to occur is a car accident in dangerous conditions.